On Leadership, Star Athletes and Awesome Support Teams

Tom Brady

Whether you are in a small business or organization, leaders need a quality, trusted support system to help make and keep them at the top of their game.

Even legendary athletes swimmer Michael Phelps and football great Tom Brady have top-level support systems in place to keep them on top of their games.

Olympic Gold Medalists and Super Bowl Champions

Legendary swimmer Michael Phelps has worked with the same coach, Bob Bowman, since he was just 10 years old. Even after his record-breaking Olympic success, surpassing Mark Spitz by earning eight gold medals in Beijing, Phelps had Bowman poolside after he resumed training.

Tom Brady, who led the New England Patriots to three Super Bowl championships, kept Tom Martinez as his personal quarterback coach from the time he played junior varsity football in high school until Martinez died in 2012.

Phelps and Brady clearly know what it takes to be champions, but both relied on trusted advisors to help them achieve greatness.

Star athletes are sometimes criticized for having an entourage. But these trainers, nutritionists, and advisors actually make sure that great performers stay on top of their game.

A support team can be the difference between an average career and a great one for entrepreneurs and business leaders as well. Creating a valuable system of support can help you meet and then exceed your potential.

Creating a Success Team

Don’t Try to Do It Alone

Before my first IRONMAN triathlon, I thought I needed to train on my own. In reality, it was pure stubbornness. After that first triathlon, I realized how essential a “success team” was.

In the competitive executive environment, you need to rely on more than your own experience and perspective to stay ahead of the game.

A well-built success team can be the difference between being an OK leader and becoming a great one.

A success team can be:

  • A formal group of advisors
  • Professional peers
  • Friends
  • Supporters from different backgrounds

These array of perspectives can provide input, insight, and assistance.

This guidance applies not only to your career advancement, but also to how you balance your career with other important aspects of life, such as family, personal well-being, and community.

Build Your Team for Success

When establishing your team, put together a mix of people who know you well, who are not afraid to challenge you, and who are accomplished in your field. Don’t be afraid to contact “rock stars” in the business.

Surely someone helped them reach the top, and they’re usually willing to pay it back to someone else.

Great leaders instill those values of cooperation for continued success.

6 Important Qualities

When you begin putting together your team, there are six qualities you should keep in mind. Good team members:

  • Provide serious and knowledgeable input. You wouldn’t easily dismiss their views. They know your strengths and how to use those strengths to meet your goals.
  • Are straight shooters. You can count on them to give honest, thoughtful feedback. Just as a great coach would recognize when your form is off or when you’re struggling to put 100 percent effort into your training, you need to rely on the direct feedback of your team.
  • Have no investment in a particular path. They wholeheartedly support your goals and trust that you know the way to get there.
  • Are supportive. They believe in you unconditionally.
  • Are available and accessible. They make time to help you achieve your goals.
  • Grasp the issues you’re considering. These could include growing your business, balancing your family and professional lives, or pursuing personal creative interests.

Establishing Clear Expectations

Establishing clear expectations with all your team members is critical. Let them know exactly what you want from them and how often you’ll contact them.

It’s also important that this relationship is reciprocal.

By contributing to your team members’ successes, you help propel your overall mission.

Give Team Members Specific Roles

Just as professional athletes depend on people with specific skills and experience to help them succeed, you should choose success team members who fill specific roles like these:

  • The trainer: This is someone who helps you recover from setbacks or build your skills with functional expertise — like a sports trainer helps athletes build strength and endurance.
  • The swing coach: This person has followed a career path like yours; you can learn from his mistakes and find specific disciplines and approaches to be successful.
  • The mental guide: The guide is someone who helps you build a stronger psychological game, keeps you positive, and offers a sounding board.
  • The utility players: These members help give you perspective, ease your burdens, and remind you that you’re not alone in facing problems.

Be Strong By Getting Help

I learned the hard way after training for my first IRONMAN that it’s okay to ask for help. You don’t have to go it alone.

Seeking help and support is a sign of strength, not weakness.

I now have a strength and conditioning coach, a swim coach, a sports masseuse, an IRONMAN coach, and friends and family who know my training goals and keep me on track. It takes a team of experts — both in your field and in your personal life — to be your best. Assemble your own success team to take your achievements to the next level.

So, do you have a support system in place? If so, how is it working for you? And what can you do to improve or expand its impact?If not, what steps can you take NOW to begin to build one? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Bobbie LaPorte

Bobbie LaPorte is the founder and CEO of RAL & Associates
She works with Senior-Level Executives to Develop their Professional Goals
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Google+ | Web 

Image Sources: assets.nydailynews.com

Image Sources: 

L2L Contributing Author

1 Comment

  1. Scott J. Simmerman (@scottsimmerman) on June 20, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Funny, but this can also go over the top. I just read that England sent an entourage of 72 people including psychiatrists and doctors to accompany and support its 24-man football cup at FISA. They lost their first two games.

    Just having an entourage is certainly no guarantee of success and, if those people are not really working as part of the team, could certainly be distracting.

    Like most things, the key principles here are balance and shared visions. Perspective is certainly useful, as is honesty and trust. But every group develops a culture that must be nurtured to generate collaboration over competition and to weigh ideas.

    Heck, even appointing one person to serve as Devil’s Advocate can be a useful thing to manage risk.